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Monday, July 22, 2013

The Internet is Not Evil, Abusers Are



Many parents still believe that by eliminating technology and Internet access from the home, they are keeping their children safer from associated dangers. While most children have access outside of their home (i.e. schools and friends houses), removal may be disadvantaging to a child for a number of reasons. Locking up a child’s digital devices may make cyber-bullying and other online abuse impossible, but it can also hinder the development of the child in a technology driven world.

Regardless of your belief in today's society, technology is ever present and shouldn't be feared. In fact, there has been a great deal of good that has come from using the Internet. 

Communication - We use different ways to communicate. As a society, we've moved from face-to-face communication to electronic. Communication via mobile devices, text and email are common practices and good skills to learn young, but both these skills are like sports. They require practice to be used appropriately in different situations. Phone calls, text and emails must give off the correct tone. If a recipient interprets messages different from the sender’s intentions, this may raise issues. On the other hand, too much technology can cause a language barrier. When a person can't go a few minutes without checking alerts, then they may be using too much of it. And, too much technology can be a bad thing.

Although children today are faced with cyber-bullying and trolling teens that have nothing better to do with their time, communication with other family members and friends has never been easier. Children need to be taught that cyber-bullying is nothing more than some angry kid trying to lash out in a way that makes him or her feel tough. Trolls are the same way. It's an anonymous way for someone to feel good about themselves. Don't give them what they want, and they move on. Reacting in any fashion could be fueling future disruptions. The best thing to do is ignore them completely.

It is also important to talk to teens about the real world threat of online predators. 

Future Employment Opportunities - In today's world, skills can be put to use on freelance websites in order to promote economic growth. In the 1990s, one had to actively look for work and suffer from a lack of opportunity. The Internet can be a tool in order to help one secure a financial future. Even if you don't buy into freelancing from home, the ability to find work across the country to fit your skills is much better than being isolated to a single location that may not have openings of any kind. It is much easier for our children to find work now than it was when we started employment years ago. 

Education - Technology has its benefits. It brings us knowledge-based information into our homes and helps children understand concepts from a variety of perspectives. We no longer have to sit in a classroom to learn and experience diversity.

Internet technologies have advanced to the point where students can attend schools and colleges from vast distances. A quality education can be had regardless of your location. Children who live in rural areas who may not want to travel in order to further their education don't have to. The Internet brings the education to them.

In fact, most students’ (an incredible 93 percent) first instinct when confronted with a research problem is to turn to Google or Bing to get information rather than going to the library, and despite the best efforts of faculty to discourage its use, Wikipedia is the research resource that is used most often. 


Ocean of Knowledge - Although there are a lot of sites on the Internet that spread false or misleading information, many more sites offer a great deal of actual knowledge. Virtually any subject can be learned by reading posts on various blogs and websites. Teaching your children how to verify this information can help them determine the difference. 

Rallying for Good - Internet technologies have been the pivotal point in many organizations rallying together to help others. It's a place where a terminally ill girl can be praised for her contributions by people who have never met her, but watched her YouTube videos. The Internet is a tool that can help lost children find their way home simply because someone saw a picture that matched the description of a neighbor girl.

The Internet isn't an evil entity that is lurking about your computer system. People abuse the power of technology, thus creating problems and exploiting unsuspecting victims. By teaching your children safety procedures and how to avoid being drawn into online deceptions, you are giving them the ability to utilize the Internet for its intended purpose. It all boils down to respect for technology and all of its power, good and bad. Instead of eliminating the wealth of knowledge available online, parents should take a more active role in the digital lives of their children and embrace the good while being vigilant of the bad. 


Contributing Author Bio: Christine Maddox. Currently Christine is pursuing her Master’s degree from University of Texas as well as blogging for www.4nannies.com. She loves to write anything related to parenting, kids, nanny care and child safety. Christine Maddox can be reached via email at christine.4nannies@gmail.com.

Editing & Writing Contributions by Anthony Gonzalez for Child Quest International

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